Volume 92, Issue 43

Thursday November 19, 1998

billionaire boys' club


Equity prevents increased divisions

Re: How do you define equity? Nov. 11

To the Editor:

This letter is in reference to the letter printed in The Gazette on Nov. 11. Mike Davidson's letter claims Equity Week was a failure. According to him, it failed because the whole idea of "diversity" is overrated and the week was a futile effort. He claims that all should be treated equally, and that diversity should be eliminated.

Equity Week does not increase divisions, nor is racism eliminated by claiming colour really doesn't matter. Colour does matter, but not because it is a different tone on meat; it matters because of specific geographical locations, histories and politics. A different skin colour represents a specific history. Diversity refers not just to different skin colours, but also to different religious beliefs, different sexual orientations, different politics and different cultural backgrounds.

These things cannot be just ignored. It is these backgrounds that make individuals what they are.

Canadians celebrate Remembrance Day with gusto because it represents a very important moment in history; Jews still mourn the Holocaust, Christians still celebrate Christmas. Equity Week is meant to bring all these, as well as other "minorities" under one banner and "celebrate difference."

Grouping people does not necessarily mean ignoring the individual. In fact, the individual is ignored only when "outsiders" to the group see only the picture made by the mosaic and not the tiles that make the whole. What is your standard of equality, Mr. Davidson? Elimination of histories and cultural backgrounds?

If we do eliminate that, what do we make of ourselves then? What is the standard? Two individuals, with completely different backgrounds have to resolve the differences before a relationship can be established.

A problem does not go away simply by pretending that it does not exist. Race becomes an important issue not just because of colour, but what it means to others. And it is that particular construction of the "other" in the West (North America and Europe) that are the "issues and concerns" of Equity Week. The week was a failure not because it was a futile effort, but because nobody cared enough about those issues.

You ask for treatment of people as individuals – I agree wholeheartedly with you. But Muslims are still lumped together as women-oppressors and terrorists, blacks are still seen as inferior to whites and browns are still seen as people with accents.

As long as these stereotypes exist, events like Equity Week remain crucial in attempting to provide a forum for ALL to speak out and voice issues and concerns. It is irresponsible to suggest that a person's background is unimportant to what he/she is at the present.

Amber Fatima Riaz
Comparative Literature and Civilization IV

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Copyright The Gazette 1998